There is no mistake about it, Pauline Roussin-Bouchard has a goal. She has a plan, she has a team and she’s serious.
Practicing for 4 hours, on and off your phone is different than 2 hours of dedicated, deep practice and it’s important to aim for that and know the difference.
Pauline grew up playing and competing in France and just completed her Freshman season at The University of South Carolina. Pauline touts an impressive competitive resume including wins in prestigious international amateur events, and most recently, an inaugural collegiate victory defeating the likes of Sierra Brooks and other talented young women this past Fall. Pauline was so kind to reflect on her journey in golf with us and share insight as to how she’s reached the summit of amateur golf.
1. So, why golf? Do you play other sports?
PRB: Golf was always a family thing for us. We played all the time growing up – my brother, parents and me. At the beginning, golf was all about the family time and sharing moments together. For me, it has always been a pleasure to play golf and it has always been just a game. I never felt pressure from my parents. I chose golf because I loved the game and because I love competing.
I also competed in Judo at a young age up until I was 12. And now I’m in my 5th year of boxing and I love it. Personally, I think it’s really important to have something else, something active you can do and get away from your #1 thing.
2. How’d you get so good? Did you have a system growing up?
PRB: I’ve always been super motivated in everything I do. When I do something, I go deep into it with sharp focus and strong devotion. I started working exclusively with my brother’s golf coach when I was 12. At that time, we implemented serious methods in practice, and I’ve been with the same coach ever since. My Coach (Alain Alberti) works with boys mainly, and he coaches me just like one of the boys. He never takes it easy on me, if he has something to tell me, he tells me. Trust is so important for my Coaches and me.
When we started out, I told him “I want to be the best player in the world”. He told me, “well, this is how we’re going to proceed if that’s your goal.” It was very matter of fact, structured and organized.
Now I have a team of coaches who work together as a team. To me – it’s only one voice because they’re all on the same page.
I learned that there is no failure, only experience. You learn from every situation, whether it’s in sports or in life.
3. What did you learn from your biggest failure?
PRB: I almost quit golf when I was 12 because I was getting discouraged. And again, in 2016 I lost control of my game. During that time, I let opinions affect my game. It’s hard not to try different things and listen to what everyone is saying or doing, but sometimes that can take you off track. I learned that it’s tough to know the difference between what advice you should take and what advice not to take.
I was playing in big tournaments, and at first, I didn’t really know or think about how I was one of the youngest and best competitors. Then, when I started to hear my name more and more, I had higher expectations of myself to play well. It was tough knowing that I was one of the best players in the field. After a lengthy experience outside of the winner’s circle, I learned how to prepare the right way, and learned how to handle those expectations.
It was an 18-month stretch when I really grew up and hardened the confidence I have in my game. I had bad results, good results, and results in between, but I always stuck with and trusted my process. I accepted that I won’t win every event, even if I was dedicated, focused and practicing as hard as I could, I understood that the results might not come straight away.
I learned that there is no failure, only experience. You learn from every situation, whether it’s in sports or in life. Yeah, I struggle, but I stay positive by focusing on the light that helps me move in the right direction toward my goals. I view failure as experience. I now have a dictionary of experiences, and when something happens, I just open my dictionary and sometimes I see that I’ve gone through this before.
4. Is there a difference in golf coming to The States?
PRB: The competition is the same. It’s cool – I still compete against the same group of girls I met and played against growing up and in amateur golf in Europe over the years. We’re just continuing to battle it out in tournaments here.
I want to be the best player in the world
5. What was it like to be home-schooled?
PRB: Unfortunately, sports aren’t really a part of French culture. It’s not acceptable to split time between academics and a sport – young athletes are basically forced to pick one or the other. I’ve always needed a balance so, home-schooling allowed me to focus on golf and academics as well as other activities. I put in the work on what I needed to, when I needed to. It was the necessary choice for me to realize my dreams. Being home-schooled helped me learn a lot – I learned how to learn on my own, how to study on my own, and how to manage my time effectively.
6. Do you work out?
PRB: I started working out for golf when I was 14. Since that time, I’ve always had a golf-specific workout program. I think working out is really important and I love doing it, it’s part of my balance. I work out to release pressure, have the body that I want, and achieve the level of golf performance that I want. Right now, I’m sharpening my physique and focusing on cardio in preparation for the long days and weeks that make up LPGA Q-school.
7. What was your recruiting process like and why did you choose The University of South Carolina?
PRB: American Coaches are coming to Europe more and more to find and pick-up players that they like. I talked to a bunch of coaches who’d ask me if I wanted to come visit their program and if I was interested in playing collegiate golf in the States. I ended up with a small list of two schools to compare – Oklahoma State University and The University of South Carolina. I ultimately chose to become a Gamecock for a few main reasons.
First, the Coaches were supportive of my goals and willing to be a contributing part of what my process and plan already was, and not replace it with their own. Second, I fell in love with the campus and the environment when I visited, I just knew it was the place for me. Lastly, the Gamecock facilities are amazing – we have a 17-acre practice facility with multiple courses. It truly is a wonderful place.
8. What’s your day-to-day like now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
PRB: Right now, I’m home trying to plan my day to day and week to week schedule with online class, my workouts, and golf practice. There is still a lot up in the air. I had to go back to France because everything was cancelled and closed. And France is basically shut down now, and we’re homebound for the foreseeable future.
I had bad results, good results, and results in between, but I always stuck with and trusted my process.
9. One thing young golfers should focus on if they want to be #1 in the world?
PRB: I would say there are two things:
- Golf has to stay a game, it cannot be something hurtful to do, something that you don’t like to do, and you can’t be doing it for someone else or for someone else’s dreams. It has to be all you.
- It’s not about how long you stay at practice or how long you practice, but rather the quality of your practice. Practicing for 4 hours, on and off your phone is different than 2 hours of dedicated, deep practice and it’s important to aim for that and know the difference.